It’ll Be Tough to Say Goodbye to You, 2017

Just this year, I launched my blog and spent many weeks traveling to Puerto Rico, New York, Portland, San Diego, St. George, and Michigan. I moved 3 times, welcomed 2 baby nieces, ran 3 half marathons, and watched my husband earn his Master’s degree. But every December I find myself wondering how the new year could possibly be any more exciting?! I thought that in 2015 when I got married, and again in 2016 when I graduated college. These accomplishments were hard to put behind me because I was scared of not knowing what was next. The one thing I do know about the future though is this: typically, our worst fears rarely come true. Most of us worry ourselves over things that are most likely never going to happen, and if they do, we learn how to survive them. In 2009, I survived a life-threatening battle with Anorexia Nervosa. In 2010, I survived being grounded from running my car into a mail box and asking a boy to the Sweethearts dance. In 2011, I survived a knee injury that placed me out of my dance team’s Winter Showcase. In 2012, I survived my first year of college (although, **DISCLAIMER**

I Read My Husband’s Journal and I Wasn’t Prepared For What It Told Me

Aaron called me this morning with the bad news that he had to replace the battery in our brand new car. He wanted to tell me so I would be aware of the money that would be coming out of our bank account but instead of thanking him for taking the time out of his day to get it fixed, I did what any loving and thankful wife would do: I got mad and hung up. And now after sitting on it for a while, I am feeling extremely guilty. Guilty that the blur of life and all its responsibilities makes it difficult for me to see the good in my spouse. And since I love my husband, I sat down and wrote in my journal the reasons why I adore and appreciate him. The list is unending, but simply thinking about Aaron made me miss him so, of course, I pulled out his journal just to get a breath of fresh air. However, I wasn’t prepared for what it told me. It told me that Aaron is a wonderful poet.   Poetry By Aaron Bennett People who write poetry are a little strange Maybe even a little deranged You have

3 Easy Dishes You Can Cook For Thanksgiving (Even If You’re Not A Cook)

Thanksgiving….I can smell it already! It’s all about family, friends, and fooooood. I’ve never been one to really spend much time in my kitchen, but lately I’ve had the desire to be a better homemaker and learn new skills. However, after an ambitious week of babysitting three kids for a few days all while trying to move into a new apartment, I have lost the motivation to cook. Some nights (alright, most nights) cereal or Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets for dinner felt like a major culinary accomplishment. So to slow down my life for a brief moment, I thought I’d make this quick and easy. If you’re learning, like me, these 3 simple recipes will help you round up the ones you love around your table for a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving celebration!   Garlic Herb Mashed Potatoes Ingredients: 1 head of garlic 4 pounds medium red potatoes 1 ½ cups hot whipping cream Choose at least 3: Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Chives, Parsley 2 to 3 tbsp butter Salt & Pepper to taste Directions: Place garlic in a small baking dish and roast in oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until skin is brown and sides give easily

Marriage Needs More Than Just a “Date Night”

I’m going to go out on a limb & make a sweeping-generalization-type-of-statement: Aside from the glimpses we get online about marriage from freshly-penned blog posts about life as a newlywed, Instagram photos of a shiny stone, a perfect manicure, and an “I said yes!” caption — all tastefully filtered in Amaro, of course — most of us base our assertions, values, and desires surrounding marriage off of our parents’ relationship. Today my parents celebrate their 32nd “wedding birthday”, as Aaron calls it, and for some reason, this year’s milestone seems particularly significant to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched several of my own friends get married, and I have also seen their marriages fall apart. Or, maybe it’s because I am nearing my own anniversary of marriage, and after two years, I can say that I’ve received an accurate depiction of what it’s like to be married. In my (almost) two years of experience, marriage requires these 3 things: Expression of love, more than just a “date night”, and…yes, I’ll say it. Hard work. Expression Of Love Let’s face it. Most of us are not Shakespeare. We have all the feelings, but not so many words. I say that even as

8 Acts of Kindness You Could Give Today

I woke up at 8:28 a.m. to a text message from a gal I used to work with at Rage Salon in Logan, Utah. I quit working there in August due to the demand of my nanny jobs but she asked at 8:05 a.m. if there was any way I could work her shift today, starting at 9 a.m. She was throwing up and feeling terrible. My quick response was, “Sorry girl! I just woke up! I can cover you!” I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth & hair, threw on deodorant and a dress, said morning prayers with Aaron, and ran out the door. Never in my entire life have I gotten ready in 10 minutes flat. It was a true miracle! I sent Alex (the girl who is sick) a text letting her know I was on my way to the salon. Shortly after she responded, “Marlee, you are a saint. Honestly I am crying because I am so thankful for you right now. Thank you. Thank you.” Now I’m no saint, she was just fuzzy from her cold medicine. But it did get me thinking: What are acts of kindness we can do for someone

Friday’s are for Journal Writing (or Reading)

I love Friday’s. Particularly this Friday. Aaron and I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night because, HELLO, Stranger Things Season 2 premier! I’m not big into sci-fi, or even fantasy or adventure fiction for that matter, but this show is strangely addicting (ha, see what I did there?). Because of our late night we both slept in until about 10:00 this morning. #heaven Due to the late start, Aaron decided to stay home with me today and do his school work here so we’ve been sitting at the table together now for about 3.5 hour pecking at our keyboards. Well, he has. I’ve been entertaining myself by reading my journals from 2008 & let me tell ‘ya something…I was totally a teenage girl! My life was all about boys, Target, dance, work, high school friends, EFY, girl’s camp, etc. etc. And about every other journal entry I wrote something like, “Life is good! Gram & Papa bought a condo in Saint George, I passed my history test, and… I gotta pee so I’ll write later!” Some things really never change. In my journal from Sophomore year in college, I found an entry about my experience attending a funeral

25 Quarter-Life Lessons (& Realizations)

Happy 25th birthday to me! I almost went out and took pictures in a dolled up little black dress holding gold balloons to look Instagram perfect. Sometimes as a blogger I feel that’s what the internet expects of me, but let’s keep it real. I woke up early for a morning run, packed my husband’s lunch, met with a dear friend for lunch (she drove 2 hours just to come see me. Gosh I love her), read a book on the grass in the backyard, and spent the remainder of my day pecking at my keyboard in sweat pants, hair pulled back, no make up and my thick purple glasses eating Mike & Ike’s. That’s real life for an aspiring writer. I’ve been contemplating this milestone for about a month now, and it’s made me feel a little nostalgic to think back through all the years that have flown by. In 25 years, there’s plenty I’ve realized, and even more I’ve learned. So here it is: 25 lessons I learned by age 25. 1. Life is really what you make it. Be creative. We so easily get lost in the mundane routines of life. It can be boring and

Face Plants and Prayer: Why It Takes all the Energy of our Hearts to be Converted

At a Women’s Conference I attended earlier this year, a speaker expressed this thought: “Prayer keeps us converted. It’s a commandment because He wants us to seek proximity to Him.” We are constantly on the path to conversion and it takes all the energy of our hearts to become converted, to become like our Savior. Sometimes, though, life feels like a constant face plant. See, just like this, and they hurt. We experience stresses of mortality (illness, arguments, death, financial problems, work difficulties, sleep deprivation, parenthood, media overload) that have the ability to numb our eternal vision. We judge others and hold grudges, we’re jealous, impatient, and experts in self-doubt. Each of these are referred to as our “weapons of rebellion” and it may begin to feel nearly impossible to become as He is. A weapon of rebellion in my life recently has been demanding answers to the “if’s, why’s, how’s, and when’s” of mortal life. Aaron and I are anticipating some significant changes within the next few months (change is still the only constant in our lives and probably will be forever) and we have found ourselves overwhelmed with doubts that have only led to fear and arguments.

7 Insights I Learned While Earning My $40,000 Piece of Paper

Perspective is one of the most valuable insights I have gained in the last four years as an undergraduate student at Utah State University. I received my share of embarrassing exam grades, worked lousy jobs, lived with roommates who never did their dishes, and experienced really rough break-ups but as I think back to it, these have all been opportunities for my benefit. My years as an Aggie have been the most influential of my life and I would like to share my 7 insights for anyone seeking to make college (and life) a valuable experience: What you do matters. There are always consequences for what we do and the choices we makes each day but what I mean is in the way of long term consequences. During my first year of college, my classes were much more difficult than I anticipated them to be but I often skipped them to hang out on the quad with my friends instead. I stayed up past 2 a.m. almost every school night with my roommates and the boys across the hall rather than studying for my human anatomy exam, and I went to basketball games instead of my 7:30 p.m. study groups. If you

“Voices of early-returned LDS Missionaries: The Daily Universe”

“Overtime, I learned that I served exactly the time I needed to serve and taught the people I needed to teach.” When I was thirteen years old, I attended an EFY (Especially for Youth) the summer before eighth grade and my counselor had asked us on the first day to think of questions we wanted answers to. They could be gospel related, familial, or academic – anything we wanted – and she promised us by the end of the week, if we sought for answers from the scriptures and prayer, we would receive an answer. The question I wrote was: am I meant to serve a mission? I had watched my older brothers prepare and serve and I felt that experience was something I wanted. During the week, I read a particular scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that influenced my decision. The spirit was so overwhelming in that moment that I knew I had my answer. From then on, I tried to live my life in a way that was preparatory for a mission and read that scripture on a daily basis. I served in the Illinois, Chicago mission for exactly seven months. I entered the MTC on July